India: the myth of 'Love Jihad'
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In India, where religious tensions and violence are on the rise, Hindu extremists are accusing Muslims of practising “Love Jihad”. India’s Muslims deny these accusations and claim that this is a conspiracy aimed at harming their community, which remains a minority in the country.
“Love Jihad”. These two words have captured the Indian imagination since last summer and received widespread coverage in the local media. This so-called “War on Love” accuses Indian Muslims of trying to seduce unsuspecting Hindu girls into marriage, thereby converting them to Islam.
A Hindu girl went missing from her house in the northern Indian village of Uttar Pradesh in August 2014. A week later she reappeared, claiming to have been abducted, kidnapped and raped by several Muslim men from her village, who then forcibly converted her to Islam. The incident sparked a nationwide reaction.
The “Love Jihad” myth has been given a new lease of life by Hindu fundamentalist organisations, who have been growing stronger and louder since the BJP came to power eight months ago with an absolute majority. They say there are dozens of women who are ensnared in these plots.
We began our research for the story in Uttar Pradesh. But during the course of our report, the main victim retracted her statement.
This became the starting point of our investigation into the phenomenon of “Love Jihad”. Is it a sinister plot to target and threaten the Hindu population? Or is it simply a means for Hindu fundamentalists to revive religious tensions?